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42: Revolutionary Computer Training, Shaking Up Education

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Despite being the fifth largest economy in the world, France currently sits at 20th place in the digital field. This means that the existing educational system is not equipped to train talent in these now technologies which the jobs of tomorrow will mostly involve. Florian Bucher, Xavier Niel, Nicolas Sadirac and Kwame Yamgnane considered this fact together and teamed up to create 42, a revolutionary information-technology school which is free and open to all.

42 (a reference to the science fiction book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 42 is the answer the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.) differs greatly from the majority of other educational institutions. Firstly, students are awarded a place in the school based on their talent and motivation and therefore there are no academic or financial hurdles to cross which prevent so many of today’s young people from achieving success. Secondly there is no curriculum or courses, no professors. They have created instead an open education structure of self education. Students take part in peer-to-peer learning which is a type of participatory learning that allows students to unleash their creativity through projects, internships and gamification all monitored by peer reviews.

The course is open to anyone between 18 and 30. The curriculum has 21 levels to pass and depending on the student’s pace this will take between 2 and 5 years to complete. Applicants needn’t have a computing background, they don’t have to speak English (or French), they can have a criminal record and be bad at maths. None of this matters as they’ll only be judged on logic and the will to pull through.

In saying this, the application process is gruelling. It begins with with applicants taking an aptitude test, to test their logic. The best 3,000 students will then go on-site to the school to complete a 4 week intensive coding bootcamp nicknames La Piscine and compared to the Hunger Games. This involves working at the school for 450 hours in a month to ensure the required high levels of motivation are there. So even if they know nothing about computers, they will be able to code by the end of the boot camp. The 800-1000 students who make it through will have the very best in terms of IT resources and a friendly environment open 24/7 with access to collaborative spaces.

One of the brains behind 42, French technology entrepreneur and billionaire Xavier Niel has just invested $100 million  of his own money to take 42 to Silicon Valley. The plan over the next 5 years is to educate 10,000 students, making them into experts in the coding field. This vision is allowing anyone from any background to start out on an equal footing, something which educational institutions have been unable to do thus far. 42 is completely revolutionary and paving the way for the future of education.



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